Production costs of natural gas from unconventional fields could tumble in the United States if a new technique developed by Schlumberger lives up to its billing.
The world’s largest oilfield services company by market value and others working in the industry have suffered this year because the runaway success of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling techniques to extract so-called unconventional gas has created a glut and caused a price slide.
But using a proprietary system called Hiway that only became commercially viable last year, Schlumberger’s fracker in chief believes he has knocked a lump out of the infant industry’s three major cost components; water, sand, and trucks.
Schlumberger is already using the system on nearly a third of all fracking jobs, and expects that to rise rapidly to 50-70 percent, according to Kyel Hodenfield, the company’s vice president for unconventional resources.
“It can vary, but using Hiway we generally say you need 40 percent less proppant,” (graded sand mixed with guar gum or lubricating chemicals), he told Reuters in an interview.
“Water is more variable, but it’s somewhere between 20 and 50 percent less.”
Less sand, less water and less pumping adds up to fewer trucks, Hodenfield explained on the sidelines of the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference in Stavanger, Norway.
“Those are the big costs. Anything you can do to reduce the amount of sand, the amount of water, and the amount of horsepower is going to fall to the bottom line.”